Master Cookie Dough – 1 Dough, 5 Cookies

If you’re anything like me, the greatest pleasures of the holiday season are the cooking and baking and preparing of special dishes for a whole group of people to enjoy. 

Baking, in particular, with the warmth from the oven and the delicious smells wafting through the house makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

But it can be taxing! (Especially if you want to have an assortment of cookies for people to choose from.) 

Unless, of course, you have a master cookie dough recipe.

That was what I was looking for this year, so I began thumbing through the classic tome, Joy of Cooking, where I found a 14-in-1 master recipe. 

The only trouble with the recipe as it stands, however, is that it calls for substitutions. For example, for the spice cookies they want you to trade the white sugar that’s in the recipe for packed light brown sugar, and for the chocolate recipe it says to take out some of the flour and put in some cocoa powder. 

Making substitutions like that however, in my mind, defeats the whole purpose of a master recipe. 

So in the recipe below, which I’ve adapted from this 14-in-1 master recipe, all five cookie types that I make use the master cookie dough recipe as their base. Then I add in whatever tweaks I want, for example, chocolate, or spices, to make each batch come out a little different. 

A tin filled with holiday cookies.

5-in-1 Master Cookie Recipe

This batch of dough, with a few tweaks, will yield 5 different cookies. Perfect for your tin of holiday cookies.
4.20 from 20 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 8 minutes
Chilling 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 8 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 40
Calories 136 kcal


  • oven


  • 1 C. butter at room temperature
  • 1 C. superfine sugar To make superfine sugar, pulse granulated sugar in food processor for 30 seconds.
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk large
  • 1 egg large
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

Jam Cookies

  • 5 tsp. strawberry jam use any jam you like

Spiced Cookies

  • 1/2 tsp. molasses
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. turbinado sugar any chunky sugar will work

Cut-Out Cookies

  • 2 tsp. nonpareil sprinkles

Double Chocolate Cookies

  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder either Dutch-processed or natural or a combination of both
  • 1/3 C. chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter


Master Dough

  • In a large bowl use a hand mixer to cream together the butter, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy. 3-5 minutes.
  • Add one egg yolk and mix well.
  • Add one whole egg and vanilla and mix well.
  • On low speed add the flour in a couple of batches or use your hands to work the mixture into a dough.
  • Divide the dough into 5 equal parts. Add the add-ins of your choice.
  • Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


  • Preheat oven to 375˚F/190˚C for 6-8 minutes.
  • Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.


This recipe was inspired by The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. 


Calories: 136kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 72mgPotassium: 32mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 160IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 1mg
Keyword butter, Chocolate, cookies, dessert, gift giving, Holiday
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

17 thoughts on “Master Cookie Dough – 1 Dough, 5 Cookies”

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe Emmy!
    My son and I went to work making a double batch of the dough and had to multiply the directions for the spiced cookies by 5 because I love ginger spice! I think the spices could have been a little heavier, as it was the flavor is very subtle but the cookies stayed perfectly in their shapes and a little gold sanding sugar made them almost too beautiful to eat! LOVE your show and your personality brings light to my life! <3

  2. 4 stars
    worked really well. But if you are going to take a longer time to “create” the cookie, make sure it is refrigerated between batches otherwise it gets too soft and falls apart.
    These taste wonderful by the way!!!

  3. 2 stars

    Please start putting proper details as the world is bigger than America. Quite silly that a person still needs to make others aware of this in 2021.

  4. 5 stars
    Get a grip Wayne. Geez. And when we look at European recipes that list grams, etc, we don’t leave ignorant comments. We find a site that will help us convert to the system we are used to.

    Thank you Emmy for a great base recipe!

  5. I was searching for a recipe for cookie dough that I could keep dry….then when it came time to cook the cookies, mix in the wet ingredients. This looks so darn good am just going to triple ingredients and keep uncooked
    dough in freezer. Can not tell you how very useful this trick is due to our
    busy busy schedules. Isn’t Emmy the cutest!!!! Great video.

  6. Hi this is monica young how would I make one of the 5 dough parts into oatmeal raisin cookies that includes ground cloves & cinnamon? and if I wanted to flavour the double chocolate dough with a little cinnamon( for a mexican chocolate vibe) or some orange or rasberry extract how much would I add for one 5th of dough, same for a lemon cookie? also what kind of texture does the baked cooled cookies have buttery & crisp, buttery & but soft or harder like shortbread. thank you for taking the time to answer my questions

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